« PreviousContinue »
is in the bosom of the earth concealed; and if there be occasion at any time to search into it, such labor is then more necessary than pleasant, both to them which undertake it and for the lookers on. In like manner, the use and benefit of good laws, all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the grounds and first original causes from whence they have sprung be unknown, as to the greatest part of men they are.
Since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of His law upon the world, Heaven and earth have hearkened unto His voice, and their labor bath been to do His will. He made a law for the rain ; He gave His decree unto the sea, that the waters should not
His commandment. Now, if Nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were for a while, the observation of her own law; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; if the frame of that Heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of Heaven, which now, as a giant, doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way; the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture; the winds breathe out their last gasp; the clouds yield no rain; the earth be defeated of Heavenly influence; the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the withered breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief, — what would become of man himself, whom these things do now all serve ? See we not plainly that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world?
Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God; her voice the harmony of the world; all things in Heaven and earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both angels and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all, with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.
17. JUSTICE. - Thomas Carlyle. In this God's world, with its wild-whirling eddies and mad foamoceans, where men and Nations perish as if without law, and judgment for an unjust thing is sternly delayed, dost thou think that there is therefore no justice? It is what the fool hath said in his heart. It is what the wise, in all times, were wise because they denied, and knew forever not to be. I tell thee again there is nothing else but justice. One strong thing I find here below: the just thing, the true
thing. My friend, if thou hadst all the artillery of Woolwich trundling at thy back in support of an unjust thing, and infinite bonfires visibly waiting ahead of thee, to blaze centuries long for thy victory on behalf of it, I would advise thee to call halt, to fling down thy baton, and say, “ In God's name, No!” Thy “success!” Poor devil, what will thy success amount to ? If the thing is unjust, thou hast not succeeded ; no, not though bonfires blazed from North to South, and bells rang, and editors wrote leading-articles, and the just thing lay trampled out of sight, to all mortal eyes an abolished and annihilated thing. Success ? — In few years thou wilt be dead and dark — all cold, eyeless, deaf; no blaze of bonfires, ding-dong of bells, or leading-articles, visible or audible to thee again at all forever. What kind of success is that?
18. TO-MORROW.- Nathaniel Cotton. Born, 1707 ; died, 1788.
But soft, my friend, — arrest the present moment;
Then stay the present instant, dear Horatio ;
'Tis of more worth than Kingdoms ! far more precious
the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.
19. THE ELOQUENCE OF ACTION.- Daniel Webster. When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable in speech, further than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it, — they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is eloquent; then, self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward, to his object, — this, this is eloquence; or, rather, it is something greater and higher than all eloquence, - it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action!
20. SINCERITY THE SOUL OF ELOQUENCE. - Goethe. Born, 1749 ; died, 1832.
How shall we learn to sway the minds of men
And twist into a thousand idle shapes,
21. THE CHRISTIAN ORATOR. - Original translation from Villemain. By the introduction of Christianity, a tribune was erected, from which the most sublime truths were boldly announced to all the world; from which the purest lessons of morality were made familiar to the ignorant multitude ; a tribune so authoritative, so august, that before it Emperors, soiled with the blood of the People, were humbled ; a tribune so pacific and tutelary, that more than once it has given refuge to its mortal enemies ; a tribune, from which many an interest, abandoned everywhere else, was long defended; a tribune which, singly and eternally, has pleaded the cause of the poor against the rich, of the oppressed against the oppressor, and of man against himself.
There, all becomes ennobled and deified. The Christian orator, with his mastery over the minds of his hearers, elevating and startling them by turns, can reveal to them a destiny grander than glory, or terribler than death. From the highest Heavens he can draw down an eternal hope to the tomb, where Pericles could bring only tributary lamentations and tears. If, with the Roman orator, he commemorates the warrior fallen on the field of battle, he gives to the soul of the departed that immortality which Cicero dared promise only to his renown ; he charges Deity itself with the acquittal of a country's gratitude.
Would the orator confine himself to evangelical preaching ? That science of morals, that experience of mankind, those secrets of the passions, which were the constant study of the philosophers and orators of antiquity, ought to be his, also, to command. It is for him, even more than it was for them, to know all the windings of the human heart, all the vicissitudes of the emotions, all the sensibilities of the soul; not with a view to exciting those violent affections, those popular animosities, those fierce kindlings of passion, those fires of vengeance and of hate, in the outbursts of which the triumph of ancient eloquence was attained; but to appease, to soften, to purify, the soul. Armed against all the passions, without the privilege of availing himself of any, he is obliged, as it were, to create a new passion, if by that name we may profane the profound, the sublime sentiment, which can alone vanquish and replace all others in the heart, an intelligent religious enthusiasm ; and it is that, which should impart to his elocution, to his thoughts, to his words, rather the inspiration of a prophet than the art and manner of an orator.
22. AFFECTATION IN THE PULPIT. – William Cowper. Born, 1731 ; died, 1800. In man or woman,
- but far most in man,
I venerate the man whose heart is warm,